Aug. 11, 2009

Virginia Guard network defenders welcomed home

By Maj. Cotton Puryear
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

FORT BELVOIR, Va. — Twenty Virginia National Guard Soldiers assigned to the Manassas-based Data Processing Unit were formally welcomed home from overseas federal active duty Aug. 24 in a ceremony at Fort Belvoir. The Soldiers served in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait and Qatar as a Regional Computer Emergency Response Team assigned to the 2nd Information Operation Battalion, 1st Information Operations Command.

  Virginia National Guard Data Processing Unit

Soldiers from the Manassas-based Data Processing Unit cut the cake at their welcome home ceremony conducted Aug. 24 at Fort Belvoir. (Photo by Maj. Cotton Puryear, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

“We are a network-centric Army, and we rely on computers to get things done,” said Brig. Gen. Steven Smith, the chief cyber officer for the U.S. Army Chief Information Office and guest speaker for the ceremony. “Our network is constantly under attack, and these Soldiers are our first line of defense.”

The team was formed approximately two years ago when it began specialized training to support 2nd Battalion’s mission of providing intrusion response, technical expertise and threat analysis in direct support to commanders in the Central Command area of operations.

“We can’t do this mission without the Guard and Reserve,” said Col. Michael A. Miller, commander 1st Information Operations Command. “You played an important part in defending our network.”

During their deployment, the team deployed and upgraded more than 100 specialized intrusion sensors and accomplished dozens of successful computer defense assistance and network assessment missions. The team was able to identify malicious software previously undetected, mitigate the effects and prevent further intrusions upon Army networks.

“The support we gave CENTCOM was unique, timely and went far above simple computer network defense tasks,” said Lt. Col. Stephen Warnock, the officer in charge of the team. He praised the Soldiers of the team for their original thoughts and deeds, as well as their expertise and experience.

“Rarely did I have to spell out how to do something,” Warnock said. “I just had to point the direction to go with very broad lanes to travel in, and the Soldiers of the team had the technical knowledge, intellectual curiosity and sense of duty to always do the right thing.”

Numerous awards were presented to members of the team during the ceremony, including four Bronze Star Medals and three Meritorious Service Medals.

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